Focus on Social Studies

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Social studies is a broad topic, encompassing several subjects, including history, government, economics, civics, sociology, geography and anthropology. It can also be one of the most visual learning experiences for students with the help of today's tools and software. Instructors no longer have to rely on outdated textbooks and wall maps to educate students about an area that is rich with sounds and images, when it can be brought to life via computers. With today's new software titles, students can travel from state to state, explore cultures and societies around the world, and relive the times of our forefathers without leaving the classroom. This month's Focus On highlights some of the current social studies solutions that cater to different educational levels and skills.

Social studies is a broad topic, encompassing several subjects, including history, government, economics, civics, sociology, geography and anthropology. It can also be one of the most visual learning experiences for students with the help of today's tools and software. Instructors no longer have to rely on outdated textbooks and wall maps to educate students about an area that is rich with sounds and images, when it can be brought to life via computers. With today's new software titles, students can travel from state to state, explore cultures and societies around the world, and relive the times of our forefathers without leaving the classroom. This month's Focus On highlights some of the current social studies solutions that cater to different educational levels and skills.

Teaching social studies utilizing interactive games, animations, videos and cutting-edge technology can be both fun and educational for students. Tool Factory Inc. runs the gamut when it comes to social studies solutions. In an innovative mapping program, Map Detectives, students play a detective trying to track down the thief of Lady Hartley's manor. Using geography and mapping skills, students have to solve a series of crimes in two interactive mystery games. Intended for second- through eighth-graders, the program sharpens a student's ability to use map symbols, grid references, distance and scale as they search for the stolen objects and collect clues. The CD-ROM uses humorous photos, lively animations, maps and sounds to engage students as they navigate through intelligent, ever-changing plots. In addition, Map Detectives offers a facility to monitor students' progress and print activities for the classroom.

Also from Tool Factory comes the two-disc set Disappearing World, which is available for the PC and networkable. The interactive CD-ROMs allow grades seven and up to become anthropologists by introducing them to eight societies in far corners of the world - from Basques, highland herders from the French/Spanish border, to Trobriand Islanders, yam farmers from the Western Pacific. Users can explore different aspects of these societies, including making a living; men and women; wealth; knowledge and power; and religion and belief. The program's rich collection of images, videos and commentary are an invaluable resource for social studies curricula, and will help inspire students to investigate these foreign cultures. The second CD-ROM also offers printable materials that lead students through case studies, comparisons and data collection.

Getting younger students to learn about world geography can be a challenge. But with interactive software that features man's best friend as a tour guide, it becomes enjoyable. Storm Educational Software offers Smudge Discovers the World for children ages 5-9. Following Smudge the Spaniel, the interactive package equips children with basic geographical skills t'expand their interest and understanding of people and places. The easy-to-use program is presented in four parts, with support material for work away from the computer. In part one, Smudge discovers the world by looking at political, physical and human features. Students are asked to name countries, cities, rivers, mountains, etc. The program includes a postcard facility that encourages students to leave the computer to find additional information about a place or feature, which incorporates photos of many of the locations. Part two uses an aerial map to teach compass, coordinates and mapping skills. Students can also use the CD-ROM to design a map of their local area, including its roads, rivers and other key features. And part three covers rivers, cloud formations and the effects of weather on a community.

Teachers looking for ways to spice up history lessons can now utilize multimedia re-sources with images, audio and video clips to help students learn. Multimedia Collections from Teacher Created Materials provides an easy-to-use collection of historical clip art and photos, as well as audio and video clips. Teachers and students can use these CD-ROMs to create fun and interesting classroom presentations. Each of the titles contain search engines so users can browse by topic or media type. In addition, a 48-page user's guide includes step-by-step instructions on how to use, search, copy and save multimedia. Comprehensive listings of sounds and thumbnails of images are also included with each collection. The Multimedia Collections' titles include: Ancient Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Age of Exploration, Colonial America, American Revolution, United States Constitution, Civil War, Westward Expansion, Industrial Revolution, Ellis Island Immigration, World War I, Roaring '20s & Depressing '30s, World War II, and The Fifty States.

From Rand McNally comes New Millennium World Atlas Deluxe Education Edition, a detailed 3-D world map that can be viewed as a globe or wall map. The CD-ROM includes thematic maps that highlight social, economic and environmental themes. The program offers a Compare Facts module with more than 100 statistical data sets for students to chart. It also features an extensive library of history, science, culture and wildlife articles, along with thousands of re-searched Web links. Students are given the ability to create personal notebooks for gathering and saving articles, maps and other data. In addition, a printable Edu-cation Guide CD walks you through 14 key features to demonstrate how each of them can be applied to in-class and independent study on subjects such as history, geography, political science and earth science.

The National Geographic Society offers two social studies tools that help students explore Earth and beyond. First is National Geographic Maps, a CD-ROM archive that includes every foldout map ever published by National Geographic magazine. The program features engaging multimedia map tours, interactive timelines that trace the evolution of mapping, key events in National Geographic cartography, and the stories about the people and places behind these maps. Other features allow you to explore the surface of the moon, peer into distant galaxies and travel to the depths of the ocean. The CD-ROM allows you to search any map or theme with ease, as well as view, pan and zoom-in on maps for a global or close-up view. Another element lets you enjoy multimedia tours on the mapping of space, history, the underwater world and much more. In addition, it has features that enable users to copy, paste, and print color or black-and-white maps for school reports or home.

Also from National Geographic is Our Earth from the Wonders of Learning CD-ROM library. Geared for prekindergarten to second-graders, the program is a voyage around the planet, investigating such things as what elements support life, what air can do and why it rains. Students are able to examine the Earth's oceans, rivers, mountains and deserts, as well as examine the forms of life in each. In addition, students learn critical map concepts, including location, symbols and cardinal directions.

Inspiration Software Inc.'s Inspira-tion 6 program is used in many social studies classes to help students draw connections between events and learn about cause-and-effect relationships. Inspiration Software's visual learning tool d'es this by providing students with integrated diagramming and outlining environments that work together to help them comprehend concepts and information. Many students use the program to compile and organize research information to create social studies reports or presentations.

As Inspiration 6 ships with several social studies-specific templates, teachers can quickly and easily integrate the program into their lesson plan. For example, if studying causes of the French Revolution, a social studies class may use Inspiration's history Web template to create a visual map that shows how the events leading up to the revolution relate to one another. This provides a structure that helps students learn to organize and prioritize information. After students have graphically illustrated their ideas and the relationships between them in this view, they can easily switch to Inspiration's outline view. Here students will find their information organized and prioritized into a hierarchical outline. In the outline view, students can develop their ideas about the causes of the French Revolution into a written report using notes text, or export them into a word processing or presentation program.

Finally, Heartsoft Inc. offers a social studies solution for the gifted or challenged student with Great American States Race, which pre-sents students with a diverse number of questions on state history and facts in a race format. The geography program breaks down the U.S. into regions, including New England, the Pacific, the Midwest and the South. Students will benefit from learning states, capitals and other facts, such as a state's flower, bird and tree. It also helps students improve their geography skill level for national standardized tests.

-Matthew Miller

mmiller@thejournal.com

Social Studies

Contact Information

Map Detectives;
Disappearing World

Tool Factory Inc.
East Dorset, VT
(800) 220-8386
www.toolfactory.com

Smudge Discovers the World
Storm Educational Software
Dorset, England
www.stormeducational.co.uk

Multimedia Collections
Teacher Created Materials
Westminster, CA
(800) 858-7339
www.teachercreated.com

New Millennium World Atlas Deluxe Education Edition
Rand McNally
Skokie, IL
(800) 678-7263
www.k12online.com

National Geographic Maps;
Our Earth

National Geographic Society
Washington, DC
(800) 368-2728
www.nationalgeographic.com

Inspiration 6
Inspiration Software Inc.
Portland, OR
(800) 877-4292
www.inspiration.com

Great American States Race
Heartsoft Inc.
Broken Arrow, OK
(800) 285-3475
www.heartsoft.com

Social studies is a broad topic, encompassing several subjects, including history, government, economics, civics, sociology, geography and anthropology. It can also be one of the most visual learning experiences for students with the help of today's tools and software. Instructors no longer have to rely on outdated textbooks and wall maps to educate students about an area that is rich with sounds and images, when it can be brought to life via computers. With today's new software titles, students can travel from state to state, explore cultures and societies around the world, and relive the times of our forefathers without leaving the classroom. This month's Focus On highlights some of the current social studies solutions that cater to different educational levels and skills.

Social studies is a broad topic, encompassing several subjects, including history, government, economics, civics, sociology, geography and anthropology. It can also be one of the most visual learning experiences for students with the help of today's tools and software. Instructors no longer have to rely on outdated textbooks and wall maps to educate students about an area that is rich with sounds and images, when it can be brought to life via computers. With today's new software titles, students can travel from state to state, explore cultures and societies around the world, and relive the times of our forefathers without leaving the classroom. This month's Focus On highlights some of the current social studies solutions that cater to different educational levels and skills.

Teaching social studies utilizing interactive games, animations, videos and cutting-edge technology can be both fun and educational for students. Tool Factory Inc. runs the gamut when it comes to social studies solutions. In an innovative mapping program, Map Detectives, students play a detective trying to track down the thief of Lady Hartley's manor. Using geography and mapping skills, students have to solve a series of crimes in two interactive mystery games. Intended for second- through eighth-graders, the program sharpens a student's ability to use map symbols, grid references, distance and scale as they search for the stolen objects and collect clues. The CD-ROM uses humorous photos, lively animations, maps and sounds to engage students as they navigate through intelligent, ever-changing plots. In addition, Map Detectives offers a facility to monitor students' progress and print activities for the classroom.

Also from Tool Factory comes the two-disc set Disappearing World, which is available for the PC and networkable. The interactive CD-ROMs allow grades seven and up to become anthropologists by introducing them to eight societies in far corners of the world - from Basques, highland herders from the French/Spanish border, to Trobriand Islanders, yam farmers from the Western Pacific. Users can explore different aspects of these societies, including making a living; men and women; wealth; knowledge and power; and religion and belief. The program's rich collection of images, videos and commentary are an invaluable resource for social studies curricula, and will help inspire students to investigate these foreign cultures. The second CD-ROM also offers printable materials that lead students through case studies, comparisons and data collection.

Getting younger students to learn about world geography can be a challenge. But with interactive software that features man's best friend as a tour guide, it becomes enjoyable. Storm Educational Software offers Smudge Discovers the World for children ages 5-9. Following Smudge the Spaniel, the interactive package equips children with basic geographical skills t'expand their interest and understanding of people and places. The easy-to-use program is presented in four parts, with support material for work away from the computer. In part one, Smudge discovers the world by looking at political, physical and human features. Students are asked to name countries, cities, rivers, mountains, etc. The program includes a postcard facility that encourages students to leave the computer to find additional information about a place or feature, which incorporates photos of many of the locations. Part two uses an aerial map to teach compass, coordinates and mapping skills. Students can also use the CD-ROM to design a map of their local area, including its roads, rivers and other key features. And part three covers rivers, cloud formations and the effects of weather on a community.

Teachers looking for ways to spice up history lessons can now utilize multimedia re-sources with images, audio and video clips to help students learn. Multimedia Collections from Teacher Created Materials provides an easy-to-use collection of historical clip art and photos, as well as audio and video clips. Teachers and students can use these CD-ROMs to create fun and interesting classroom presentations. Each of the titles contain search engines so users can browse by topic or media type. In addition, a 48-page user's guide includes step-by-step instructions on how to use, search, copy and save multimedia. Comprehensive listings of sounds and thumbnails of images are also included with each collection. The Multimedia Collections' titles include: Ancient Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Age of Exploration, Colonial America, American Revolution, United States Constitution, Civil War, Westward Expansion, Industrial Revolution, Ellis Island Immigration, World War I, Roaring '20s & Depressing '30s, World War II, and The Fifty States.

From Rand McNally comes New Millennium World Atlas Deluxe Education Edition, a detailed 3-D world map that can be viewed as a globe or wall map. The CD-ROM includes thematic maps that highlight social, economic and environmental themes. The program offers a Compare Facts module with more than 100 statistical data sets for students to chart. It also features an extensive library of history, science, culture and wildlife articles, along with thousands of re-searched Web links. Students are given the ability to create personal notebooks for gathering and saving articles, maps and other data. In addition, a printable Edu-cation Guide CD walks you through 14 key features to demonstrate how each of them can be applied to in-class and independent study on subjects such as history, geography, political science and earth science.

The National Geographic Society offers two social studies tools that help students explore Earth and beyond. First is National Geographic Maps, a CD-ROM archive that includes every foldout map ever published by National Geographic magazine. The program features engaging multimedia map tours, interactive timelines that trace the evolution of mapping, key events in National Geographic cartography, and the stories about the people and places behind these maps. Other features allow you to explore the surface of the moon, peer into distant galaxies and travel to the depths of the ocean. The CD-ROM allows you to search any map or theme with ease, as well as view, pan and zoom-in on maps for a global or close-up view. Another element lets you enjoy multimedia tours on the mapping of space, history, the underwater world and much more. In addition, it has features that enable users to copy, paste, and print color or black-and-white maps for school reports or home.

Also from National Geographic is Our Earth from the Wonders of Learning CD-ROM library. Geared for prekindergarten to second-graders, the program is a voyage around the planet, investigating such things as what elements support life, what air can do and why it rains. Students are able to examine the Earth's oceans, rivers, mountains and deserts, as well as examine the forms of life in each. In addition, students learn critical map concepts, including location, symbols and cardinal directions.

Inspiration Software Inc.'s Inspira-tion 6 program is used in many social studies classes to help students draw connections between events and learn about cause-and-effect relationships. Inspiration Software's visual learning tool d'es this by providing students with integrated diagramming and outlining environments that work together to help them comprehend concepts and information. Many students use the program to compile and organize research information to create social studies reports or presentations.

As Inspiration 6 ships with several social studies-specific templates, teachers can quickly and easily integrate the program into their lesson plan. For example, if studying causes of the French Revolution, a social studies class may use Inspiration's history Web template to create a visual map that shows how the events leading up to the revolution relate to one another. This provides a structure that helps students learn to organize and prioritize information. After students have graphically illustrated their ideas and the relationships between them in this view, they can easily switch to Inspiration's outline view. Here students will find their information organized and prioritized into a hierarchical outline. In the outline view, students can develop their ideas about the causes of the French Revolution into a written report using notes text, or export them into a word processing or presentation program.

Finally, Heartsoft Inc. offers a social studies solution for the gifted or challenged student with Great American States Race, which pre-sents students with a diverse number of questions on state history and facts in a race format. The geography program breaks down the U.S. into regions, including New England, the Pacific, the Midwest and the South. Students will benefit from learning states, capitals and other facts, such as a state's flower, bird and tree. It also helps students improve their geography skill level for national standardized tests.

-Matthew Miller

mmiller@thejournal.com

X@XOpenTag001Social Studies

X@XOpenTag000 Contact InformationX@XCloseTag000X@XCloseTag001

Map Detectives;
Disappearing World

Tool Factory Inc.
East Dorset, VT
(800) 220-8386
www.toolfactory.com

Smudge Discovers the World
Storm Educational Software
Dorset, England
www.stormeducational.co.uk

Multimedia Collections
Teacher Created Materials
Westminster, CA
(800) 858-7339
www.teachercreated.com

New Millennium World Atlas Deluxe Education Edition
Rand McNally
Skokie, IL
(800) 678-7263
www.k12online.com

National Geographic Maps;
Our Earth

National Geographic Society
Washington, DC
(800) 368-2728
www.nationalgeographic.com

Inspiration 6
Inspiration Software Inc.
Portland, OR
(800) 877-4292
www.inspiration.com

Great American States Race
Heartsoft Inc.
Broken Arrow, OK
(800) 285-3475
www.heartsoft.com

This article originally appeared in the 10/01/2001 issue of THE Journal.

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